When they started dating, David Auten and John Schneider were 30-something professionals with 13 years of combined experience in financial services. They also had more than $50,000 of combined credit card debt.
Today, they’re married and debt-free. They’re also the only gay couple talking about money and the LGBT community.
LGBT individuals encounter some unique financial challenges compared to their heterosexual peers. For example, same-sex couples may have trouble accessing employer-sponsored health insurance benefits or tax deductions for shared expenses like mortgage payments. Indeed, many of these challenges were alleviated by the Supreme Court ruling in 2015. This historic ruling guaranteed same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry. Today, same-sex and heterosexual couples alike can take advantage of joint tax returns, shared health insurance and retirement benefits, and more. Yet, even with these strides forward, there’s still a lot to be done to ensure the financial future of the LGBT community.
These days, Auten and Schneider are forging the way for queer individuals and allies to become financially strong while fighting for LGBT equality. In addition to blogging at Debt Free Guys, the pair run a podcast and YouTube show focused on personal finance for the queer community.
We sat down with the Debt Free Guys to talk about pride, personal finance, and living debt-free.
Chime: What does financial wellness mean to you?
Debt Free Guys: To us, financial wellness means financial security. If money is a stressor in your life, it will affect your physical and mental health. If you’re distracted by too much student loan debt, a mortgage that takes more than 50% of your income or credit card debt that carries from month to month, you can’t be fully engaged in what’s most important to you and your family.
Chime: What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned since starting Debt Free Guys?
Debt Free Guys: The most surprising thing we’ve learned since starting Debt Free Guys is how much information about money people crave. It’s widely accepted that we aren’t adequately taught about money in school and most adults know that financial knowledge is important for their success. We need more money experts of all stripes, from certified financial planners to money bloggers.
Chime: What are your favorite tricks for saving money?
Debt Free Guys: Know your ‘why.’ No tip or trick will help until you know what you want and why you want it. We’re often asked in interviews how we paid off $51,000 in credit card debt in two and a half years. The underlying question there is: What tips or tricks can you share? While tips and tricks are helpful, it wasn’t until we learned what was important to us that we had the motivation to implement the tips and tricks required for our financial success.
Chime: How are you celebrating Pride this year?
Debt Free Guys: We spoke at Prudential’s LGBT Financial Experience Symposium in Newark NJ and we’re attending the Stonewall Community Foundation Awards in New York City.
Chime: Any tips for our LGBT members?
Debt Free Guys: Contrary to popular belief, many in the LGBT community struggle with financial insecurity. We’re not all “fabulous” and upwardly mobile power couples. That said, it’s important for us to talk about money and to seek advice and help with our money whether we earn $10,000 a year or $1,000,000 a year. People who talk with peers and mentors about money tend to do better with money. Seek help because regardless of why you may be struggling financially, there is a way to improve your financial life. This helps you personally and our LGBT community broadly.